A COMMUNITY threatened with being cut off has secured at least one public transport provider before its bus subsidies are withdrawn.

From April 1, residents in Hartburn, Stockton, can catch the number six Arriva service travelling from Stillington village to the town centre along Dunedin Avenue following the borough council’s decision to axe the routes it helps pay for.

Hartburn ward councillor, Terry Laing, hoped the move would prompt other commercial operators to run more services.

“We are delighted at the news but it is only one piece in the jigsaw. We should know by early February if there will be others as they need to give 56 days notice before commencement.

“We had meetings with Arriva and council officers after listening to concerns raised by the residents of Hartburn. This is a step in the right direction.”

About 200 locals attended a meeting last September to hear how they could be affected by the council £300,000 bus subsidy cuts.

Fears over how people will travel to work, school or hospital appointments as well as into Stockton town centre, which is undergoing a £35m revamp, were raised at Holy Trinity Church Hall.

James Wharton MP for Stockton South said pressure from local councillors and residents had “clearly paid off”.

“Stockton Council can find millions of pounds to spend on projects like the High Street, but they then make small savings from things like bus subsidies that many people rely on,” he said.

“If they can save a bit from the big ticket items then all local bus services could be retained. This is good news and should be recognised as such, but it still leaves many areas including outlying villages facing the loss of public transport connections.”

Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and transport, added: “We are facing an unprecedented 58 per cent reduction in our funding over seven years and in May last year we reluctantly made the difficult decision to withdraw the subsidy we pay bus operators, which helps to sustain some rural, weekend and non-commercial routes.

“We know the people of Hartburn have been very concerned that bus operators may withdraw services from their area and we hope Arriva’s move to continue serving them provides strong reassurance.”